After the failure of Cop26, there’s only one last hope for our survival | George Monbiot | The Guardian
Our “clean, green” transport revolution is being built with the help of blood cobalt, blood lithium and blood copper. Though the emissions of both carbon dioxide and local pollutants will undoubtedly fall, we are still left with a stupid, dysfunctional transport system that clogs the streets with one-tonne metal boxes in which single people travel. New roads will still carve up rainforests and other threatened places, catalysing new waves of destruction.
A genuinely green transport system would involve system change of a different kind. It would start by reducing the need to travel – as the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is doing with her 15-minute city policy, which seeks to ensure that people’s needs can be met within a 15-minute walk from homes.
It would encourage walking and cycling by all who are able to do so, helping to address our health crisis as well as our environmental crisis. For longer journeys, it would prioritise public transport. Private electric vehicles would be used to address only the residue of the problem: providing transport for those who could not travel by other means. But simply flipping the system from fossil to electric cars preserves everything that’s wrong with the way we now travel, except the power source.
It is not hard to envisage a low-carbon economy in which everything else falls apart. The end of fossil fuels will not, by itself, prevent the extinction crisis, the deforestation crisis, the soils crisis, the freshwater crisis, the consumption crisis, the waste crisis; the crisis of smashing and grabbing, accumulating and discarding that will destroy our prospects and much of the rest of life on Earth. So we also need to use the properties of complex systems to trigger another shift: political change.